Devesh Kapur, D Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad
Born to an indentured laborer father in a Dalit family where food mattered more than studies, Mannam Madhusudan Rao began as a construction worker. Today, he runs his own construction company that is completing a township worth Rs 250 crore. This is the story of how he took this remarkable journey – the colossal risks, successes and failures through which he has persevered, all the while fighting the stigma of caste and entrepreneurship in a culture that values a job, preferably a safe government job, over independence.
The wide road leading to Jubilee Hills is difficult to navigate with its heavy motor traffic and unwieldy dips and turns. The near absence of pedestrians on the road points to its being an exclusive residential area in Hyderabad, sought by those with the means to afford its dramatic hilltop views and discreetly nestled mansions, a luxury anywhere in urban India.
Mannam Madhusudhan Rao, founder of the MMR Group. Photo courtesy Mannam Madhusudhan Rao
The major artery, Road Number 86, slices through the heart of Jubilee Hills, servicing the numerous mansions and apartment complexes that have mushroomed on its hilltops. The rich and famous of Hyderabad – film stars, politicians, contractors, big-time moneylenders, industrialists and bankers – have laid claim to the hills. Their homes provide a convenient getaway from the heat and chaos of the city below, while remaining close enough to keep tabs on their business preoccupations. So it is with Mannam Madhusudan Rao, known as MMR, who occupies a prized apartment on the hilltop.
In his late thirties, MMR owns and runs the MMR Group of Companies, involved in construction, including infrastructure projects. He is racing to complete an entire township in Rajahmundry, a project worth Rs 250 crore.
MMR's route to his coveted hilltop address began with a dinner party in September 2011 at a country club in Jubilee Hills. "That's a dinner I didn't relish," he now admits. "It was more about drinks than food!"